New Jersey Man Charged With 30 Animal Cruelty Offenses Demonstrates Seriousness Of Crimes
In July, a New Jersey man found living with more than 40 dogs in unsanitary, inhumane conditions was charged with more than 30 criminal offenses, including third-degree animal cruelty, fourth-degree animal abuse, and failure to provide necessary care to an animal. Reportedly, the dogs were locked inside the home for an unknown amount of time and forced to relieve themselves indoors. They also suffered from eye issues, infected wounds, joint problems, malnourishment, open sores, overgrown nails with related lacerations, scars, scratches, and worms. One dog was also missing an ear, while another was missing a tail.
New Jersey Animal Cruelty Law
Arrests and new stories like these cause us to examine what constitutes animal cruelty is at the state level. Specifically, New Jersey’s animal cruelty law dictates that it is unlawful to:
- Fail to provide an animal with necessary care;
- Inflict unnecessary cruelty (directly or indirectly) upon an animal;
- Leave the animal unattended in a vehicle under inhumane conditions adverse to their health or welfare; or
- Overdrive, overload, overwork, abuse, or needlessly kill an animal.
As with all laws, how these terms are defined is important in terms of local authorities deciding whether an individual has actually violated the law. Under New Jersey’s statute, “necessary care” is defined as “care sufficient to preserve the health and well-being of an animal”; it includes, but is not limited to “adequate access to water in sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy the animal’s needs, access to adequate protection from the weather, food of sufficient quantity and quality to allow for normal growth or maintenance of body weight, and veterinary care to maintain health and alleviate suffering.”
It is also important to note that the cruelty statutes include other activities that could constitute animal cruelty, such as abandonment (a “disorderly persons offense”) and cruel restraint. They also cover obvious activities that constitute animal cruelty, such as torturing, maiming, cruelly beating, and/or killing an animal needlessly, and are not only limited to activities involving dogs and cats, but rather all animals, including wildlife and livestock. For every conviction, you can be fined between $250 and $5,000 and/or imprisoned for six months.
The law also carves out some exclusions for activities that do not fall under the cruelty statute, including regulated game hunting, the killing of mice and rats, “normal livestock operations,” scientific experiments, state-sanctioned killings, and dog training, and states that no person may be arrested or cited for a first offense involving a minor of incidental violation involving cruelty to domestic livestock unless that person has already been issued a written warning.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been accused of animal cruelty or neglect, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away in order to prepare your defense. New Jersey criminal defense attorney Phillip J. Murphy has been representing clients accused of crimes in Bergen County and surrounding areas for more than 25 years; contact us today to find out how we can help.